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Livy: The Early History of Rome, Books I-V (Penguin Classics) (Bks. 1-5) Paperback – June 25, 2002
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Original Language: Latin
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Top Customer Reviews
Livy's history, which scholars believe was intended as a series of 120 or so volumes (of which 35 have come down to us), stands as a remarkable achievement, both literary and historical. The first five volumes, translated in the present book, cover the period from the founding of the city (traditionally dated to 753 BCE) by Romulus to the defeat of the Gauls by Marcus Furius Camillus in c. 396 BCE. It is a fascinating time in Roman history, witnessing the age of the kings, their ouster by Junius Brutus and the subsequent establishment of the Republic, ongoing class struggle between the aristocratic "Patricians" and their fellow citizens, the "Plebeians," and naturally, almost unending warfare between Rome, the new kid on the block, and its neighbors.
At times the narrative can seem repetitive, what with the endless skirmishing against the Volscians, Hernici, and Latins, but Livy himself is aware of this and even makes a joke or two about it. Actually, Livy does an admirable job of holding his readers' interest in spite of the repetitive nature of his material.Read more ›
Not all of Livy's work has survived. What we have has been divided by this publisher into three parts. This book is the first of the three and covers the period from the founding of Rome to the time of Camillus. Included in this period are many entertaining stories: the flight of Aeneas from Troy to Italy, the founding of Rome by Romulus, the expulsion of the last king, Tarquin, from the city, Horatius defending the bridge over the Tiber, the victory of Cincinnatus, and many others.
Though Livy is perhaps not the most rigorous historian, his work makes for fascinating and informative reading. Some of what he relates is clearly mythical in nature, but he was writing for a popular audience and his goal was to entertain as well as inform. After two thousand years, his work still does exactly that. Read this book. I liked it very much, and I think you will, too.
What Livy is describing is really how democracy and republics form. We have been raised on the romance of the Greek Polis and its percieved benefits, but the Romans in my estimation started elemental politics in a way that we know it today. They were the first to evolve largely from a Kingship to a republic in gradual largely non-violent internal changes. They stand in marked comparison to what are often call "less civilised" races and groups of peeople, precisely because they did not evolve institutions such as the Romans.
This process is described in intimate detail by Livy. The cut and thrust of political debate, the jockeying for position in the Senate, the addition, revision and abolishing of political institutions as a society evolves -- all are described in fairly sharp detail, but lacking the wit of Seutonius or the opinions of Plutarch.
All of the above takes place against the warring between the early Roman states and their neighbours (learn that the "Rape of the Sabine Women" was not really a "rape" in the traditional sense of the term -- it was far worse: the Romans lured the Sabines for a night of partying then surrounded them in the city walls, expelled all the men and took all their womenfold for themselves!!! This was a novel idea to end a paucity of brides inside early Rome).Read more ›
Most Recent Customer Reviews
Titus Livius (nicknamed Livy by historians) was a Roman historian who lived during the late republic and early imperial era. Read morePublished 3 days ago by Andrew
Gets a bit repetitive... Useful as a reflection of ancient Roman values and culture.Published 2 months ago by Amazon Customer
Great book! It only paid $15 instead of $50 (school price).Published 11 months ago by Elizabeth Merced